(BBC) – A new-look South Africa will attempt to finish the Test series on a more positive note when they face Australia in Cape Town today.
The South Africans, who could have gone to the top of the rankings by winning this series, instead saw Australia establish an unassailable 2-0 lead.
Jacques Kallis will skipper the side in the absence of injured Graeme Smith and with Neil McKenzie losing his place, debutant Imraan Khan and Ashwell Prince will form a new left-handed opening pairing.
The original selection saw Prince named as captain, but he chose to stand down to concentrate on his new role at the top of the order.
Kallis has captained the side only once before in a Test match, which was also against Australia. He will not have particularly fond memories of the match in Johannesburg in March 2006, however, he scored 37 and 27 and his team lost by two wickets.
The 33-year-old all-rounder, poised for his 131st Test, was in forthright mood, both about the way the series has gone, and the way the captaincy changed hands.
“We’ve not been complacent, I think we’ve been outplayed,” he said. Of Prince’s decision he said: “I think it’s been a bit overblown. We have had a chat. The guys respect his point of view and they respect it that I have taken over.”
Khan is in form, having made a century at the weekend and also made a hundred in a tour match against the Australians at Potchefstroom last month. Fast bowler Morne Morkel was another casualty of the team’s two defeats having only taken six wickets at a cost of 49.83 and will be replaced by his brother Albie. South Africa coach Mickey Arthur masterminded a 2-1 series victory in Australia earlier this year and hoped this defeat would not have lasting damage. “I see it as a blip,” said Arthur. “It is a good reality check to experience defeat and the team will push on and work harder.
“Cool heads are what is needed when you’ve lost a series and it’s something we haven’t experienced in the last 10 series. But the players don’t become bad players overnight.”
Australia may give a debut to leg-spinner Bryce McGain in their final Test before this summer’s Ashes series begins in Cardiff on 8 July.
Batsman Mike Hussey says they will stay focused on the job in hand and will not be distracted by changes in the South African team.
“We’ll do our strong preparation on their new players coming in and make sure we have good plans against them,” he said.
“But I think we’re still developing our team and our team culture. We’ve got to keep worrying about what we’re doing. We can’t really afford to concentrate on our opponents.
“We’re a young group, still trying to develop our own way and our own culture.
“So it’s important that we keep the momentum going our way and keep putting in place the key things we want to take forward leading into the next Test series.”
South Africa: Jacques Kallis (capt), Hashim Amla, Mark Boucher (wkt), AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Paul Harris, Imraan Khan, Albie Morkel, Makhaya Ntini, Wayne Parnell, Ashwell Prince, Dale Steyn.
Australia: Ricky Ponting (capt), Michael Clarke, Doug Bollinger, Brett Geeves, Brad Haddin (wkt), Nathan Hauritz, Ben Hilfenhaus, Phillip Hughes, Mike Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Simon Katich, Andrew McDonald, Bryce McGain, Steve Magoffin, Marcus North, Peter Siddle.